The Debate: Should schools solicit sponsors for their scoreboards?

Sponsors have been an integral part of the athletic experience since the first group of teams got together on a school field. From small towns to mega metropolis areas, the sponsor was not only a method of revenue to help pay for the team, but represented a part of the local community that stood behind their team. Maybe it’s the times that we are in, but, for some reason, school officials are now questioning if sponsorship (ergo advertising) is something that should be accepted in a school sports environment.

I consider myself very lucky. I had the opportunity to split my growing up experience between a small town and a large city. I know what it’s like to live in a community so small that they loving say: “the good thing about a small town is that everyone knows everyone else. The bad thing about a small town is that everyone knows everyone else”. The good part of the town is that no matter what kind of sports event was happening, we had local businesses that supported the teams. Their kids and grandkids went to school with you; you shopped at their stores and saw their ads in the local paper. They participated in every church and school event and, it was common place to see their name or logo on the school scoreboard. In a city environment, it was really much the same. The sponsor names may change and their isn’t quite the same tight relationship as in a small town, but, the sponsor represented a business that was part of the school and team.

Sponsorship advertising on a scoreboard also brings revenue in for the school teams. Everything costs money and without the sponsorship, much of the fun of the game would be completely removed. Shabby uniforms, a poorly cared for field or auditorium, seating that is falling apart, no gas for the school bus to take the teams to away games. For the life of me, I can’t imagine why anyone would ask the question if sponsors and the advertising should be part of a school team experience.

Those people that submit these kind of objections typically have an objection, but usually do not offer any alternatives revenue sources. While their reasoning may have something to do with psychological objection, school sports sponsorship is part of Americana, and the electronic scoreboard is a major player in that sponsorship.

Today’s scoreboards have surpassed the old fashioned technology, bringing new venues of presentation: brighter, clearer colors; sharp logos, streaming ads, promotional games and now even feeds to social media. The doors have been opened to new opportunities for the sponsor, like never before. A school needs not only the revenue, but the understanding that they have their community support. The sponsors need the community to know they are rallied with the school and look to the increased business as the other side of that support.

I don’t know if there is a vote on this topic, but, I think if you ask anyone, they would not see a logical reason for having this debate at all. Advertising and sponsorship is everywhere in our lives, and the base reason for sponsorship on a school scoreboard is elevated beyond just an ad: it’s supporting our teams.

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